Guizhou Renhe’s decision to field vastly under-strength side for their final ACL group match against Western Sydney Wanders (WSW) was predictable and the club’s own fault, says former Dalian Aerbin defender Daniel Mullen.
The south-west China side were already eliminated before their final group match against the A-League side last week, and caused a stir by flying a skeleton squad of reserves to Australia and named only three of a possible seven substitutes for the match – which unsurprisingly ended in a crushing 5-0 defeat.
“It didn’t surprise me too much,” one of WSW’s newest recruits, Daniel Mullen , told Wild East Football, “I felt like they let themselves down in the previous five games and as a result had nothing to play for in the last game.”
Guizhou had a poor showing finishing on just four points with their group topped surprisingly to some by WSW.
Mullen, formerly of CSL side Dalian Aerbin, said “Guizhou couldn’t create anything against us and that was a credit to our players and coaching staff, compared to the other two sides in our group I did feel that Guizhou were the weakest,”
WSW were also victors over Guizhou in their away leg, with a 1-0 victory at Guiyang Olympic Centre in March.
“The first game against Guizhou I felt as though we played to perfection, we were away from home and had a clear game plan to remain compact and disciplined when we didn’t have the ball,” the 24 year old defender said, adding, “I felt as though we deserved to finish the group in first place, we grew from game to game and were defensively very good and always threatening in attack.”
Despite his confidence in his new side, Mullen looks back fondly on his two years in China with Dalian Aerbin where he had the unique pleasure of playing alongside UEFA Champions League winner Seydou Keita, Brazilian international Fabio Rochemback and France international Guillaume Hoarau among others.
“My time at Dalian has helped me mature as a player, playing in another country always presents challenges you don’t get when at home. I was lucky enough to learn from some exceptional team mates but tactically I believe the A-League is miles in front of any CSL team,” he said.
Mullen was part of a mass exodus of Australian talent from China in the 2014 winter break that saw Eddie Bosnar, Rostyn Griffiths, Mick Marrone, Bernie Ibini, Erik Paartalu, Ryan and Joel Griffiths all depart and eight South Korean players come in.
Only Billy Celeski, Daniel McBreen, Jonas Salley, Ryan McGowan and Adam Hughes remain representing Australia in China, a point Mullen believes is down to changes in attitudes within the Chinese sides.
“I wasn’t surprised so many Australians left China this year, it seems that the clubs in China change their mind so often on what they get excited about.”
“A few years ago they were excited about Australians, now they seem to have a fondness for Korean defenders. I’m not sure how long this will last but my advice to anyone playing there is to enjoy it while it lasts,” he said.
Mullen’s Western Sydney Wanderers now face Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima over two legs for a place in the AFC Champions League last eight on May 7th.
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